Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

It’s the next big thing! Or, maybe not.

April 14th, 2009

Last night I remembered to actually check in on my InsaneJournal account, for the first time in quite a few months.

I remember when, in the panic and frenzy of Strikethrough and Boldthrough, it seemed as though everyone was talking about how they’d be “leaving LiveJournal for good!”–yet very few, at least from my personal friends list, actually really followed through on that threat. One or two moved completely to JournalFen, which was cool, as I always check my JF friendslist daily because of certain communities and groups there like Fandom Wank and lol_meme that are highly active and have no equivalent elsewhere. A couple others moved to InsaneJournal, though, where at least in my corner of fandom no communities really took off that “required” my following with any regularity. I found reading repeatedly-mirrored posts from some people annoying, so as long as they were still copying all their posts between InsaneJournal and LiveJournal, why keep both on my friendlist? It was easier to just keep following them on LiveJournal. Though I thought about random different uses for my InsaneJournal, I never found the time or real push/need to use it. The #rss feeds I tried to set up on LiveJournal to read the two or three journals of people who’d moved elsewhere didn’t seem to work all that well and were an awkward solution at best. So in the end, I just lost touch with the people who moved entirely to InsaneJournal (though at least in one or two cases, they ended up coming back to LiveJournal after all…) As a separate website/social network, it had nothing compelling to offer me that I didn’t already get primarily on LiveJournal already, where all my non-fandom and wider-ranging-than-media fandom friends had remained.

So now, here it is some time (almost a year) later, and it seems that everyone is all abuzz about a new journaling site about to start selling accounts, Dreamwidth Studios. At least, everyone in certain corners of media fandom and the metafandom crowd, many of whom are praising the site up to be the best thing since perhaps the beginnings of the internet! And it’s where all the cool kids will be at! No, more than that, it means nothing less than the “parting of ways” of “LJ and fandom”! (Making that assumption, as some often seem to do, that LiveJournal media fandom is the be-all-and-end-all and only part of what constitutes “fandom” that matters.)

Admittedly, Dreamwidth Studios are making a lot of promises and talking about/implementing features that do give it strong appeal–not just to fandom but to most people who use any of the journaling clone sites. Changing the “friends” feature to differentiate between those you wish to follow and those you wish to grant access to reading your own posts, for one. A promise to operate completely without advertising support. The ability to follow, without needing to use rss, friends on other journaling sites. These are all great ideas and features that make getting an account there very tempting, and I no doubt will purchase the cheapest level account I can to give it a try (and reserve my username, of course.) And yet, the issue remains: if they build it, will people really come? Enough people to create real, active communities? Communities not found or still more active elsewhere?

A portion of media fandom may begin–and have already have begun–to migrate. But the apparent assumption by some of those moving that all will follow (or at least, all who matter) seems disingenuous, and quite a bit premature. Some people have already been put off by the overwhelming hype being put forth vocally and repeatedly by the site’s most ardent supporters: just like over-”pimping” a specific fandom to the point that some have grown sick of hearing about it before even seeing it or checking it out for themselves. And there is, albeit apparently mistaken, an assumption by some as well that Dreamwidth is part of or associated with the Organization for Transformative Works–which may not be the case, but the fact that some of the most vocal supporters of both groups are the same people has lead to this misconception and turned off some because of their already established negative-or-cautious feelings about OTW. There are those who have wondered if Dreamwidth will suffer from a smalltown mentality, and who worry because the site is apparently run by former members of the LJ Abuse team.

For me, personally, it just comes down to an issue of where my friends are, and where are the communities I want to participate in. Most of my friends are on LJ, at least my closest friends and the people I share the most interests with currently. I’m not really active in media fandom any longer; my main fandom is music and it took long enough to get some of my music-fandom friends to set up on LJ and find each other there. I can’t see trying to relocate my small communities like xmas_rocks, pinkfloydslash, hungry_4_you–nor having any real urge to do so–when they are just taking root on LiveJournal, and when I’ve seen little indication from members of those communities that they are planning on migrating to DW.

People who are moving are trying to assure everyone that it’ll still be easy as pie to communicate with them, whatever journaling site you remain based on. But like it or not, whenever you add any new step or barrier to communications–whether it’s having to sign-in via OpenID, or getting a new account, and oh yeah gotta remember that new password too and am I signed in or not and–oh, who cares!–people are going to be lazy and a lot are not going to bother. I’M horribly lazy, and I consider myself reasonably tech savy. But I’m LAZY. So any time you add another step in making me follow you to engage in feedback/conversation/etc, I’m less likely to do so. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. This applies especially to those who are turning off commenting on their x-posts except to go to DW. I can understand the reasons for doing that, in wanting to keep a conversation in one place, but…it has a slightly exclusionary feel to it that I don’t care for, and again, it’s that extra step that makes me less likely to engage. I’ve heard from others who find it offensive and a turn-off to engaging in a discussion they otherwise would have taken part in.

So…I suspect, what’ll happen is, just like I stopped regularly keeping up with some folks who moved off LiveJournal to InsaneJournal, I’ll probably lose some more folks if they move off to Dreamwidth. But I see the bulk of my friends-list staying right where they are for now–heck, no one outside of media fandom circles on my LJ friends-list is even mentioning DW, let alone talking about moving there–so I’m gonna stay right where the bulk of my real-life/music/rockfic/Philly/etc people are. If for no other reasons than a) being cheap and b) yeah, that laziness again.

I wish the folks at Dreamwidth well and, certainly, if the site takes off and ends up offering communities that interest me that I can’t find elsewhere, I just might start using the service as a regular part of my on-line time. But there are only so many social networks a person can spend their time on in each day, and each one, for me, has to offer something unique I can’t get elsewhere in actual content. Otherwise it’s nothing but a shiny new toy that may appeal to some, but should be assumed to appeal to all “just because”.

50 Cent’s own social networking site: Trend for fandom?

March 30th, 2008

These days, it seems like I’m getting half my fandom news from Mashable. It has so many news items that have fandom related impact. There was an article about 50 Cent creating an official social networking site for his fans today. Totally fantastic. I bet that catches on. One of the reasons that I think official sites don’t get more traffic is they offer limited interaction and limited new content. Fansites are generally better at providing a certain type of content and allowing increased increased interactivity between like minded fans and the musicians. Major pluses. Major incentive to use a site: Better product for fans. In terms of fan interaction on a pan fannish level though, if it catches on, it might likely spell a step back in interaction between various fan groups from different fandoms and less let me get to know you and everything about you. That could be seen as a minus. Or it could be seen as sort of a major plus: We’re getting back to the heart of monofannish behavior that some people loved. Long term, I predict that this will be seen as a positive thing for fan communities and that more musicians and intellectual property holders try to get on board with similar concepts.

FriendFeed

March 29th, 2008

When the decision was made to try to expand Fan History to represent fandom on a much wider level, I made an effort to try to keep up with more entertainment and social networking industry related news. What media companies do and services that social networking sites offer can have an impact on fandom and communities based around them. I’ve found quite a few really nifty tools including FriendFeed. I pretty much signed up as soon as I heard about it. I love FriendFeed in theory. Many of my fandom acquaintances use a variety of networks to do various fannish things. These include uploading fan art, posting fan fiction, writing meta on various topics, sharing links to various fanworks they’ve found. It just gets mind boggling to keep up with it all. FriendFeed helps to keep up with all that by taking all that information and putting it in one place. Beautiful! It can potentially save a lot of time and make it easier to find relevant discussion, new fan fiction, keep up with fandom and canon news. Who wouldn’t like that?

Except, well, a lot of people don’t like that. I plugged the site on my LiveJournal, nagged a few of my more tech savvy fandom acquaintances, chatted up a few people who might see its inherent advantages, and plugged it in the comments of a fanthropology post. How many people in my fannish sphere have signed up? One. Fandom is confusing. It has a lot of crossover with the personal and the professional. People go to different places to fill different fannish needs. Such a tool doesn’t allow them to remove that which they don’t need. I might love your episode reviews of CSI and read every piece of Grissom/Sara fan fiction you write but that doesn’t mean I want to read your Amazon.Com book reviews, hear about what you’re not fandom related doing right now on Twitter, care about the links you’re posting on your delicious account that relate to cooking, nor have your pro-political candidate of choice diggs appear along side that other content. Linking your whole life up like that might work for people who are related to you, or if you’re narrowly focusing your submissions to all sites along the same lines but in fandom, that rarely is the case. The average fan just isn’t going to provide enough fandom specific content across all these forums to make other fans want to embrace FriendFeed as a fandom tool.

At least, not at this time.

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